Hal-cy-on: noun: a bird identified with the kingfisher, held in ancient legend to nest at sea around the time of the winter solstice to calm the waves during incubation.
Pro-ject Hal-cy-on: noun: a group of Elon University freshmen who write their own songs and who won “Wannabe,” a lip-syncing competition.
Project Halcyon is the brainchild of freshmen Greg Gentile, Will Anderson, David Gwynn and Dan Enders. The four met through the Communication Fellows program and by living in the communications learning community.
The name of the group came from an unexpected dorm necessity, Anderson’s penguin-shaped humidifyer.
“We liked the initials ‘P.H.'” Anderson said.
The group decided it wanted “project” in the name, and “halcyon” came at first as just a cool word that started with “H.”
Project Halcyon has been making music since the beginning of the year, first as birthday presents for fellow learning community members and then for projects for various classes.
“The first song I really made myself was ‘Let’s Converge’ for Communications in a Global Age,” Gentile said.
The group usually makes videos using built-in webcams, but for the song “Requiem for a Booty,” Project Halcyon shot a music video in McEwen’s Studio B.
“We shot the video even before we heard about ‘Wannabe,'” Gentile said.
Sponsored by RSA, “Wannabe” was a competition where students in groups danced, acted and lip-synced along with popular songs, or, in the case of Project Halcyon, their own songs. But they didn’t think it was unfair that they wrote the song. The top prize was $500.
“I think we listened to our song less than the other groups did, even though we wrote it,” Anderson said.
Despite what might have been a slight edge over the competition, the group maintains they just worked differently than other groups — even going to the dance studio to watch their moves in the mirror.
The hard work paid off when they were announced as the winners of “Wannabe,” as well as the $500.
Jack Utrata, who did not participate in writing “Requiem for a Booty,” participated in “Wannabe” as the group’s mad scientist, while the four songwriters were dressed as robots.
“It was really an honor that they asked me to showcase my talents,” Utrata said.
The group’s future plans involve participating in the newest ETV show “Elon Tonight,” directed by freshman Chris Bosak. “Elon Tonight” will feature digital shorts similar to those on “Saturday Night Live.” Project Halcyon will make satirical music and videos, similar to the Lonely Island.
Utrata summed up the group’s feelings upon winning “Wannabe” and the $500 by saying, “A sort of beam of happiness rose out of me, and I just started hugging people.”
Project Halcyon is looking to work with other talents on campus, including dancers, for its projects for “Elon Tonight.” Until the first episode airs, though, the five freshmen will have to figure out a way to spend their $500.